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Worthing Symphony Orchestra Schools' Concert

THU 14 FEB 2019

Nearly 800 primary and home-schooled children, together with their teachers, converged in Worthing’s Assembly Hall last Thursday for the Worthing Symphony Orchestra Schools’ Concert. Organised by West Sussex Music and partly funded by the William Alwyn Foundation, the now annual event affords children the opportunity to experience the thrill of a live performance by a professional, 40-piece orchestra. 

Before the concert began, West Sussex Music’s Rosie Secker put the audience, which included pupils from Worthing’s Broadwater C of E, Chesswood, Downsbrook, English Martyrs, Heene, St Mary’s and Thomas a Becket schools, as well as Heron’s Dale, Shoreham and Jolesfield School, Partridge Green, through their vocal paces with a warm-up which culminated in a grand combination of “The Alphabet Song” and “Over the Rainbow”, each half of the audience taking turns to sing part of each song simultaneously. 

Charismatic Worthing Symphony Orchestra Musical Director John Gibbons warmly welcomed the children and their teachers after opening the concert with Tchaikovsky’s lively Russian Dance “Trepak” from his Nutcracker Suite. He then went on to demonstrate some of the more unusual orchestral instruments, such as the oboe, cor anglais and the viola, and the children also loved hearing the tuba and trombones. These instruments took leading parts in his subsequent pieces; Dvorak’s New World Symphony and Haydn’s Surprise Symphony. Alwyn’s Four Scottish Dances proved highly entertaining, as did part of Doreen Carwithen’s Suffolk Suite. Sir Edward Elgar featured in three of his Enigma Variations and there was music by contemporary composer Paul Lewis. The audience was invited to join in with Strauss’s famous Radetsky March, clapping in time to the music when directed by John. The concert ended with a thrilling performance of the finale of Tchaikovsky’s majestic 5thSymphony, demonstrating the power and glory of unforgettable music in a grand climax.

John Gibbons said: “It was thrilling to see a sea of enthusiastic young faces at the WSO Schools’ Concert on Thursday morning. It always brings joy to me and the orchestra to watch their excited reactions to each piece that we play for them - from the power of Tchaikovsky's Fifth, the subtle surprises in the Haydn and the beauty of the cor anglais in Dvorak's Ninth Symphony. I was also pleased to meet a group of Home Educated children and their parents who had obviously got an enormous amount out of the concert.”

“There’s nothing quite like experiencing the thrill of an orchestral performance and we are delighted to be able to work with Worthing Symphony Orchestra to give children the opportunity to attend for free and enjoy what for many will be their first live concert.” Adds Adam Barker, West Sussex Music Assistant Head. “Looking at the sea of smiling faces I am quite sure that this will be an experience they remember, for many years to come.” 

And, if this free concert has inspired the next generation of orchestral musicians then Worthing Music Centre has much to offer. Every week during term time, children can enjoy a whole range of musical activities including bands, choirs, orchestras as well as lessons and aural and theory classes.  Worthing Music Centre is based at Bohunt School, Worthing with activities and lessons on Friday evening and Saturday mornings. The West Sussex Music Centres not only bring children together through a shared love of music but also offer a clear progression route through to the West Sussex Youth Orchestras and Choirs and beyond that to Junior Conservatoires and national ensembles. So, whatever the choice of instrument, level of competence or age, there is a suitable activity to be found; whether it’s a percussion ensemble, string orchestra, wind band, choir or guitar group. There are also classes in musicianship as well as beginner instrumental classes and groups for pre-school children.